Role of probiotics to combat viral infections with emphasis on COVID-19

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2020 Oct;104(19):8089-8104. doi: 10.1007/s00253-020-10832-4. Epub 2020 Aug 19.


Interspecies transmissions of viruses between animals and humans may result in unpredictable pathogenic potential and new transmissible diseases. This mechanism has recently been exemplified by the discovery of new pathogenic viruses, such as the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, Middle-East respiratory syndrome-coronavirus epidemic in Saudi Arabia, and the deadly outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. The. SARS-CoV-2 causes coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), which is having a massive global impact in terms of economic disruption, and, above all, human health. The disease is characterized by dry cough, fever, fatigue, myalgia, and dyspnea. Other symptoms include headache, sore throat, rhinorrhea, and gastrointestinal disorders. Pneumonia appears to be the most common and severe manifestation of the infection. Currently, there is no vaccine or specific drug for COVID-19. Further, the development of new antiviral requires a considerable length of time and effort for drug design and validation. Therefore, repurposing the use of natural compounds can provide alternatives and can support therapy against COVID-19. In this review, we comprehensively discuss the prophylactic and supportive therapeutic role of probiotics for the management of COVID-19. In addition, the unique role of probiotics to modulate the gut microbe and assert gut homeostasis and production of interferon as an antiviral mechanism is described. Further, the regulatory role of probiotics on gut-lung axis and mucosal immune system for the potential antiviral mechanisms is reviewed and discussed.Key points• Gut microbiota role in antiviral diseases• Factors influencing the antiviral mechanism• Probiotics and Covid-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; Gut-lung axis; Probiotics; SARS-CoV-2; Zoonosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Betacoronavirus / physiology*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Lung / virology
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission
  • Probiotics / metabolism
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Virus Diseases / prevention & control
  • Virus Diseases / therapy
  • Virus Diseases / transmission
  • Vitamin D / physiology
  • Zinc / metabolism


  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc